Julia Krusen, (IES Abroad Santiago | Spring 2015), is due to graduate from the University of Virginia in May 2017. Soon after graduation she will be embarking on a new adventure abroad as a Secondary Education English Teacher for the Peace Corps in Kosovo.
IES Abroad: Why did you want to join the Peace Corps?
Julia Krusen (JK): I first became interested in the Peace Corps while studying at the Santiago Center after talking to the center director, Maricarmen. She talked to me a lot about the program and how it would fit in with my interests and larger career goals and from those conversations I decided to look into it when I got back to the U.S.
IES Abroad: When did you decide you wanted to go abroad again?
JK: I started thinking about going abroad again as soon as I got back from studying abroad in Chile. I had an incredible experience studying abroad and knew that I wanted to go abroad again, preferably to work right after I finish school.
IES Abroad: How did you make it happen? Tell us about the process.
JK: When I got back to UVA I started meeting with our on campus Peace Corps recruiter to discuss my potential options with the Peace Corps. I met with her a few times that year and finally applied in September of 2016. I received my invitation in November 2016 and am currently going through a clearance process to be officially ready to go, if all goes well I’ll be leaving in early June 2017.
IES Abroad: How did study abroad influence your desire to go back abroad? How did IES Abroad help you in your decision to go back abroad?
JK: Studying abroad with IES Abroad gave me the confidence to apply to the Peace Corps. The phenomenal experience I had abroad made me want to go abroad again, and knowing that I had that experience helped me to envision the type of work I would want to do and the environment I would want to work in.
IES Abroad: Reasons to study abroad? Reasons to work/live abroad?
JK: I think that it’s important to try to live abroad because there is no better way to understand the world outside of the U.S. and your home or college town. Beyond learning a new language, there’s so much to learn about cultural differences that cannot be conveyed from a textbook. It pushes you outside of your comfort zone and broadens your horizons in a way that can’t be replicated by reading a book or traveling as a tourist.
IES Abroad: What advice would you give to study abroad students who want to work or go to graduate school abroad? Are there any challenges to consider? Are there tools or resources students should be aware of?
JK: I would say prepare as early as possible. If you want to work abroad, you may need a visa and if you want to apply for a program such as the Peace Corps, you want to have time to get experience that they may be looking for. For me, the most useful resource as I was going through the process was my university’s career services department, but blogs written by people currently in the Peace Corps were a huge influence on my decision to apply. If possible, I would say read about other people’s experiences in the program, educational or work related that you’re looking to do, to get a feel for what it’s really like to live and work there.
IES Abroad: Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
JK: The best piece of career advice I’ve received is that there is no one right career path to follow. It’s easy to get caught up in what other people have done and try to follow that exact path to success, but there’s no saying that will work out so don’t be afraid to create a new path. Also, stay on top of your email.